Fruit & Nut Balls: Run-fuel, Kid-fuel

For the past year or so I've been using commercial energy bars as quick, portable nutrition on my long runs (anything over 8 miles or so). I was just about to fork out more money to buy some more of my favorites online (I like Bearded Brothers Mega Maca Chocolate as well as Picky Bars Mix packs), when it occurred to me that perhaps I could make my own fuel. Basically I'd need fruit for sugar/energy, plus some protein like nuts. My recipe below is based on my mother's excellent fruit & nut balls that I've been enjoying for years. Mostly I just added superfood goji berries!

  • 1/2 cup organic raisins
  • 8 dates, pits removed
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/2 cup dried goji berries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  1. Place the raisins, dates, pepitas, and apricots in a food processor and blend until an oatmealish consistency--about a minute. In some food processors the mixture will start to form a ball and circulate in one mass, that's a good time to stop.
  2. Add the almond butter and goji berries. Process for about 20 seconds and check. You're looking to just blend in almond butter but not chop up the goji berries too much. Continue to process in short bursts if needed.
  3. Spread 1/2 cup coconut flakes on a plate. Pull walnut sized lumps of the fruit and nut mixture from the food processor, roll into a ball, and roll the ball in the coconut to loosely coat it. 
I like to collect the balls in a plastic container and sprinkle extra coconut over all for storage. This recipe makes about a dozen. Give the container a little shake before opening to reattach some coconut.

I'm trying these out on my long runs as little bites to carry wrapped up in my pocket. Bonus: my children love them too as anytime snacks!

Hacking "Frozen" Doll Clothes: Help for Topless Princesses

Santa brought my daughter a cool Frozen "vanity closet," which is a pretty plastic case for Elsa & Anna's doll clothes. We already had the Elsa & Anna dolls from the Disney movie "Frozen." However, while the set comes with cool doll accessories and two (2) skirts, it does NOT come with tops for the dolls. So my girl was frustrated on Christmas Day trying to dress Anna & Elsa in half outfits.

I perused Amazon reviews and found that SOME Frozen dolls come with painted-on bodices and don't need additional tops. You just add-a-skirt and you're done. Our dolls weren't painted though, but looked like "normal" naked dolls when not wearing their original dresses. I promised promised promised that I would try to solve the problem by creating some Anna and Elsa tops myself. It was an act of mom magic I wasn't sure I could pull off...

A modest view of the problem.

I used one of our existing doll dresses as a guide and cut out a rough bodice shape. Then I sewed darts on the front and sides, hemmed the back closures, and zig-zagged the top. I sewed a single snap in the back to fasten. Finished enough for play!

Completed doll bodice!

Better, ya?

It's not fancy, but the kid was thrilled.

Elsa got a top, too. Here are the dressed dolls with their fancy closet! I like that their new strapless blouses are a little billowy and possibly ill-fitting, as if designed by Hannah Horvath. There's no need for every single thing to be perfectly tailored and shiny.

So has "Frozen" infiltrated your life at all? I really do think the songs are catchy.

Birthday Yum: Indonesian chicken curry

Another year, another birthday! This is not a "big number" for me, just a regular number. I celebrated mostly with good food and lovely family. One great (quiet) birthday gift was simply observing my daughter caught up in reading library books for most of the day. She is becoming a big-time reader just like both of her parents.

Before I get to the chicken curry, here are some other food highlights from my weekend.

Pre-birthday date night! Vermont hamburger with cheddar and mushrooms at Fireworks restaurant. We usually come here whenever we go out and we are always satisfied. They have a new presentation including a little tin for the fries and a KNIFE that holds the burger together.

This morning, a treat of mother-daughter-granddaughter brunch at duo. Above is my Bloody Hot Mary, which is extra spicy and features jalapeño-stuffed olives. I love duo so much! (It is a new restaurant in town that is both friendly and fancy, just what Brattleboro needs if you ask me.)

"Sweet Sunday" is an Eggs Florentine-esque breakfast that has mushrooms and caramelized onions hiding under there, too.

Chocolate Semifreddo: ice cream and dense brownie with candied ginger. I also had a caffe latte.

Later, for a little personal cocktail hour I had a single serving of sparkling wine (thanks to the 4-can packs of SOFIA from Francis Coppola's winery), a Vermont Farmstead Lillé cheese, and crackers.

And I decided to cook my own birthday dinner, inspired by a jar of Trader Joe's Sambal Matah Indonesian Salsa that we were given for Christmas (thanks Auntie A!). Here is my totally made-up Indonesian Chicken Curry...

  • 1 T coconut oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 skinless boneless chicken thighs, just cut in half
  • 1 t turmeric powder
  • 1/2 t cumin powder
  • 4 T Trader Joe's Sambal Matah
  • 1 box chicken broth (32 ounces)
  • 3 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup red lentils

Melt the coconut oil in a Dutch oven and add onion. Stir on medium heat for about 5 minutes until the onion starts to get transparent.

Add chicken thighs and stir/turn to just cook on the outside: a few more minutes.

Stir in cumin and turmeric. Let the heat release the spice aroma!

Add dollops of Sambal Matah and stir until heated through and smelling great.

Pour in chicken broth...

Add cubed potatoes...

Add chopped garlic...

Add red lentils, cover and bring to a boil. Then turn to low and simmer until lentils have disintegrated and potatoes are soft, about 45 minutes.

When I think of authentic curry, I think of meat in odd chunks as if cut with an axe. Definitely NOT in tidy cubes. To get a little of that axe effect, I pulled the chicken thighs with a fork once they were cooked.

Remove cooked chunks from pot, and with at least one fork, pull each piece apart to shred it.

Shredded! Return to the curry and stir together.

I served my birthday curry over white rice with a side of spinach. We were very pleased with the result: nicely spiced and very filling!

I also whipped up some bacon-wrapped scallops. Because birthday.

Happy January to you! I love this month, so full of good intentions and possibility and taking care of oneself!